March 14, 2008

Aravindan Memorial Lecture








(G. Aravindan was born in Kerala. He began his career in the early 1960’s as a cartoonist in the journal Matrubhoomi. His cartoon series 'Cheriya Manushyarum Valya Lokavum,' (Small Men and the Big World) became very popular with the readers all over Kerela.

His film career began in 1974 with the film 'Uttarayanam.' Films in the former part of his career had a strong influence of spiritualism of satirist Sanjayan and the mystic paintings of K C S Pankcker. His film career spans to about 15 years. Films made by him were based on various subjects starting from contemporary issues to mythical stories to legends to plain and simple history.

Aravindan directed many movies including Uttarayanam, Kanchana Seeta, Thampu, Kummatty, Estheppan, Pokkuveyil, Chidambaram, Oridhatu, Unni, Vasthuhara. His last film was Vasthuhara (1990).

Aravindan died on 15th MARCH, 1991.)

Vasthuhara at Changampuzha Park


Vasthuhara (1991) by G Aravindan is a social film which takes a look into the lives of partition refugees from East Bengal. At a larger level, its the universal story of refugees, the dispossessed.

The film takes place in Calcutta, 1971. Story begins with rehabilitation official Venu (Mohanlal) coming to Calcutta in one of his regular visits to shift about 35 - 40 refugee families to Andaman Islands. The current rehabilitation plan is only for those who fall under the category of schedule caste farmers. People in Andaman too are not happy about taking in refugees. All the refugees have been staying in Permanent Liability Camp in Rana Ghat, West Bengal for the past two decades. Experiencing the shattered lives of poor displaced people deeply hurts Venu, who in his silent moments alone in his small lodge room frequently finds himself lost in the thoughts about the lives of the refuge seekers he meets during the day. Living an oppressed life, their only hope being the occasional promises of land, cattle and other grants by the bureaucratic state.

Aravindan takes us closer into the life of a refugee when Venu realizes that the sorrow of one refugee family is his own. One day, an old lady, Arthi Panicker (Neelanjana Mitra) comes to meet Venu in his lodge. She speaks broken Malayalam which surprises Venu. She is a refugee from East Bengal. She desperately wants to move out of the wretched Calcutta for a better future of her children, a daughter (who's completed MA but never appeared of the examination) and a son about whom she is very sad. Her daughter Damayanti (Neena Gupta) quit studies and is a communist revolutionary out on parole. Venu realizes that they are no one but his own uncle's family, his uncle Kunjunni Panicker whom he admired so much, a poet and revolutionary who left home long back (probably to join Bose's INA) when Venu was a child.

Venu visits home in Kerala, a typical matrilineal Nair household, to discuss about his chance meeting with Kunjunni uncle's family and also to secure their rightful share for them. Venu's mother has no sympathies for Arthi Panicker and her kids. Kunjunni uncle's land is in possession of Venu's aunt Bhavani (Padmini), who, as a beautiful teenager had secret affairs with both Kunjunni and his brother Anandan. Venu remembers his childhood days where he used to run secret errands for a young Bhavani played by Shobana. Aunt Bhavani is more sympathetic towards Arthi. Having never met the wife and children of the man she once loved, she's curious about them. She agrees to give them the land or money, whatever is convenient to them. (One gets the impression that at the late time of her life Bhavani is leading a lonely, guilt-ridden life, having destroyed the lives of both the brothers – She married Anandan who commits suicide, probably due to unhappy marriage.)

Venu returns back to Calcutta and reveals his identity to aunt Arthi. She is pleasantly surprised and she and Damayanti finally feel a sense of security and belonging in their lives. But Arthi rejects the financial help from her husband's family who hadn't allowed her to enter the compound of the house when she visited them years back. Arthi narrates the humiliation of having had to return back on a hot summer afternoon from the locked gates of her husband's ancestral house, both she and Kunjunni breaking down on their way back. Immediately after their return back East Bengal, the country gains independence and in the consequent partition they seeked refuge in Indian side. Kunjunni dies of cholera in the refugee camp and a pregnant Arthi is left on her own in abject poverty, with two year old Damayanti by her side.

Venu meets Damayanti's brother who is also a communist revolutionary hiding from the police. Venu's arrival into their life brings long lost hope and happiness. But its short-lived as its time for Venu to return to the Andaman Islands with the selected refugees. As the rest of Calcutta celebrates Durga Puja, a few bunch of refugee families are packed in the back of a goods truck and offloaded at the harbor. Arthi and Damayanti arrive at the harbor to see him off. Damayanti is not able to control her emotions and breaks down inconsolably as Venu hugs her, himself overcome by sadness. Arthi Panicker looks on emotionless, her face hardened by years of victimization.

The film ends tragically as Venu has to rush hastily into the ship about to depart, abruptly ending his goodbye to his uncle's family. As Venu rushes through the crowded stairways of the ship, a crying Damayanti shouts from behind, “Write to me Dada... Damayanti Panicker, Apilore Central Jail, Calcutta”.

The ship moves towards Andaman, beginning a new journey, a new era for a few Vasthuharas, towards the green shores of a new promised and somewhere in the eastern islands, a land new hope. But even as a handful of them find hope, another wave of exodus begins, which ends in the Indo-Pak Bangaldesh liberation war in Dec 1971. Displaced from their homes, unwanted outsiders in their land of refuge, doing sundry small time jobs, working in abject conditions as bonded laborers, some wait to return back to their land, some simply give up, and some others like Damayanti and her brother, become rebels.
Vasthuhara won the State Film awards for Best Film and Director in 1990.
Direction & Screenplay: G Aravindan
Cast: Mohanlal, Shobhana, Neelanjana Mitra, Neena Gupta, Padmini
Cinematography: Sunny Joseph
Editing: K R Bose
Music: Salil Choudhury

March 13, 2008

15-03-2008 6.00 PM




17-03-2008 6.00 PM

The Lives of Others/ Das Leben der Anderen (2006)

Runtime:137 min
Director:Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Writer:Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (writer)

The Lives of Others (original German: Das Leben der Anderen) is an Academy Award-winning German film, marking the feature film debut of writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

The horrifying, sometimes unintentionally funny system of observation in the former East Germany. In the early 1980s, the successful dramatist Georg Dreyman and his longtime companion Christa-Maria Sieland, a popular actress, are big intellectual stars in the socialist state, although they secretly don't always think loyal to the party line. One day, the Minister of Culture becomes interested in Christa, so the secret service agent Wiesler is instructed to observe and sound out the couple, but their life fascinates him more and more...

Awards and Nominations
Australian Film Critics Association 2007 Film Awards/
Best Overseas Film (commendation)

79th Academy Awards
Best Foreign Language Film winner

64th Golden Globe Awards
Best Foreign Language Film nomination

César Awards 2007
Best Foreign Film winner

Independent Spirit Awards 2007
Best Foreign Language Film

International Film Festival Rotterdam 2007 audience award

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 2006
Best Foreign-Language Film

European Film Awards 2006
Best Film
Best Actor: Ulrich Mühe
Best Screenwriter: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

German Film Awards 2006
Best Film
Best Actor
Best Supporting Actor
Best Director
Best Cinematography
Best Production Design
Best Screenplay

Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007 Audience Choice Award

Vancouver International Film Festival 2006 People's Choice Award

Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 2006 People's Choice Award

London Film Festival 2006 Satyajit Ray Award

Zagreb Film Festival 2006
Best Film
Audience Award

Copenhagen International Film Festival 2006
Best Male Actor
Audience Award

Seville Film Festival 2006 Silver Giraldillo

Locarno International Film Festival 2006 Audience Award

Warsaw International Film Festival 2006 Audience Award

Bavarian Film Awards 2006
Best Actor: Ulrich Mühe
Best Newcomer Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Best Screenplay: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
VGF Producer Prize: Wiedemann & Berg

Festival Screenings
Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema 2006
Toronto International Film Festival 2006 (Special Presentation)
Telluride Film Festival 2006
Pusan International Film Festival 2006
Vancouver International Film Festival 2006
Locarno International Film Festival 2006 (Piazza Grande)
London Film Festival 2006
The Helsinki International Film Festival - Love & Anarchy 2006
Copenhagen International Film Festival 2006
Dubai International Film Festival 2006
AFI Los Angeles 2006
Sevilla Festival de Cine 2006
Festival de Cinema do Rio 2006
Athens 2006
Warsaw International Film Festival 2006
Wellington International Film Festival 2007
Zagreb Film Festival 2006
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2006
Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia 2006
Windsor (Ontario) International Film Festival 2006
Dublin International Film Festival 2007
International Film Festival Rotterdam 2007
Sofia International Film Festival 2007
Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007
Traverse City Film Festival 2007
Meaford International Film Festival 2007
Cine Europa 10 Film Festival 2007, Manila, Philippines
12th International film festival of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.

18- 03- 2008 6.00 PM



Written, directed, photographed, edited and produced by Bae Yong Kyun;
Korean, with English subtitles;
music by Chin Kyu Yong;
This unique Korean film explores the relationship between an elderly Zen master, an orphaned boy, and a young monk named Ki Bong. With little time left before his impending death, Master Hyegok teaches his two students all he knows about Zen Buddhism, which he has devoted his life to. In order to learn, both Ki Bong and the orphan Hae Jin must face and overcome their feelings of guilt for past deeds. Ki Bong left behind his blind mother and family when he came to the monastery; Hae Jin accidentally caused the death of a bird. After the old man's death, the monk and the orphan attempt to use their master's teachings to achieve spiritual enlightenment


Zen and the Art of Making Its Tenets Into a Movie

"I am insubstantial in the universe, but in the universe there is nothing that is not me," reflects Hye Gok (Yi Pan Yong), an elderly and ailing Zen Buddhist monk in Bae Yong Kyun's ravishingly beautiful film "Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?"
Not long after Hye Gok speaks these words to his young student Ki Bong (Sin Won Sop), his riddle finds a haunting visual corollary. As Ki Bong scatters the ashes of his teacher in a mountain pool strewn with autumn leaves, the colored foliage floating on the pool's surface intermingles with the reflections of leaves still clinging to the trees above.
At the same moment, the monk's reflection and his shadow overlap. The sounds of water, wind, birds and faraway animals blend with the imagery to evoke as intense an experience of being in nature as one could hope to glean from a film. Life and death, shadow and substance, image and reflection, all seem united and indistinguishable.
The scene, which the camera holds for several seconds, is one of many stunning visionary moments in the film, which opened yesterday at the Walter Reade Theater. Produced, directed, written, photographed and edited by Mr. Bae, a South Korean film maker, the movie, whose title is a Zen Buddhist koan, is a glacially slow but often spellbinding attempt to find a cinematic language for the Zen mode of perception.
The film tells the stories of the aging monk, his student and an orphaned child, Hae Jin (Huang Hae Jin), who live together in a remote Zen monastery on Mount Chonan, in South Korea. Several of the film's most striking early scenes portray the child's spiritual rites of passage.
One day, he throws a stone at a bird and seriously wounds it. Taking the creature home, he tries to nurse it back to life, but it dies. The boy hides its carcass under a rock, which he later turns over to discover the remains being devoured by maggots. Then he instinctively gives it a proper burial.
In a scene that suggests a Rousseau painting sprung to life, the child, while running through the woods at night, encounters a cow that has broken free from its shed. The two stand inches apart, gazing into each other's eyes. When Hae Jin has a toothache, Hye Gok ties a string around the tooth and yanks it out. Hae Jin's saving of his extracted tooth prompts a lesson in renunciation of the physical body.
Ki Bong also has difficult rites of passage. Both Hye Gok and Ki Bong pursue enlightenment through such intense physical challenges as meditating for hours on a rock while being lashed by icy river rapids that chill them to the bone. The young monk, who renounced the world to live in the monastery, returns briefly to the urban slum where he left behind his elderly blind mother. Sensing his presence, she greets him, but he doesn't acknowledge her call and steals silently and guiltily out of the house.
His most solemn task is the ritualistic cremation of his teacher in a mountain clearing. As his body becomes covered with ashes and soot from the blaze, he begins to grasp Hye Gok's teaching that birth and death are one.
Again and again, the film finds visual analogues for the oneness of the universe and the enlightenment to be found through the renunciation of earthly desires. In gazing into the physical world with a fixity, clarity and depth rarely found in the cinema, "Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?" goes about as far as a film can go in conjuring a meditative state.

25 MARCH 2008 6.00 PM


La Citta Delle Donne (1980)



BECAUSE ''City of Women,'' Federico Fellini's gigantic new motionpicture spectacle, is so closely connected in one way and another to all of the 17 Fellini films that precede it, and because it is as much a culmination as a continuation, it's impossible to look at this latest work with the objectivity you might bring to a film by any other major director you can name.
Objectivity is not only impossible, it's also a waste of time. Mr. Fellini's gifts, like those of Gabriele D'Annunzio, whose name is dropped more than once in ''City of Women,'' are so entangled with his self-absorbed excesses that to attempt to criticize him with coherence, or even with solemnity, is to play the game he is playing on himself in this very long but witty and phenomenal film.
''City of Women,'' is a direct descendant of ''La Dolce Vita'' (1960), ''8 1/2'' (1963) and ''Juliet of the Spirits'' (1966). However, because its hero, a fellow named Snaporaz, played by the remarkable Marcello Mastroianni in the top of his Fellini form, most vividly recalls Guido in ''8 1/2,'' the new film could easily have been titled ''18.'' ''City of Women'' is Mr. Fellini's 18th feature, if one follows his own practice of counting every two of his short films as a single full-length film.
Snaporaz is Guido nearly 20 years older, not much wiser but more curious than ever and far more rueful than the film director he was supposed to be in ''8 1/2.'' Indeed, we never do learn what Snaporaz does for a living in ''City of Women,'' which has the form of an extended dream in which Snaporaz considers his lifelong search for the ideal woman, a creature who, when found, is presented as a question: Is she a reward or a punishment?
The fantastic journey begins on a train where the dozy Snaporaz become attracted to a big, beautiful, apparently available woman who sits in the compartment across from him. She wears a chic fur hat and a suit so carefully and efficiently tailored that it should send out warning signals to the aroused Snaporaz. But no. Instead of taking his time or making any pretense at courtship, Snaporaz pursues the woman to the washroom and gets straight to the point, only to be interrupted by the train's arrival at the woman's station. When Snaporaz heedlessly follows her off the train, he finds himself walking across a grassy field, panting for breath as he tries to keep up with her long strides, heading into a forest of Arden as only Mr. Fellini could imagine it.
Within the forest Snaporaz comes upon a magnificent hotel, the headquarters for a convention of furious feminists of every age, size, color, disposition, shape and degree of commitment. There are beauties and hags, reformed housewives, militant lesbians, and one particular celebrity named Mrs. Small, a tiny, birdlike creature who has found happiness in polygamous marriage to six docile husbands, each of a different nationality and each grateful when he is treated gently, or even recognized, by his mistress.
Snaporaz is ignored, ridiculed, tolerated, threatened, frightened, flirted with and, eventually, abducted by a muscular, motor bikeriding farm woman who agrees to drive Snaporaz back to his station but, instead, attempts to rape him in a lonely peapatch. Poor Snaporaz's virtue is saved by the opportune appearance of his rapist's mother, a country crone who is as ignorant of feminism as she is ancient. Humbly she apologizes for her daughter's bad manners. Imagine trying to rape such a nicely dressed gentleman!
In his succeeding adventures Snaporaz is taken prisoner by a car full of joyriding, pot-smoking teen-agers, nymphet gargoyles who are more interested in raising hell in general than in doing anything with him in particular. It's as if they'd already passed beyond sex into a world where boredom is the last pure pleasure.
There's also an extended sequence in a great, ornate country house, built to resemble an ancient Roman temple, presided over by the last of the legendary male chauvinists, an aging red-haired satyr named Dr. Xavier Zuberkock who, on this particular night, is celebrating his 10,000th female conquest as well as, he must admit, his last. Having used women all his life, and having fought the good fight against the local female police force, which has declared his temple illegal, Xavier sadly acknowledges that he is worn out. The last we see of him he is praying before the bust of his beloved mother. She is, of course, on a pedestal. ''City of Women'' makes some points less subtly than others.
Though the film is overlong, even for a Fellini aficionado, it is spellbinding, a dazzling visual display that is part burlesque, part satire, part Folies-Bergeres and all cinema. As Snaporaz is haunted by the phantoms of all the women he has known, or wanted to know, from childhood on, Mr. Fellini in ''City of Women'' is obsessed by his own feelings toward women, by his need for them, his treatment (mostly poor) of them, his continued fascination by them and his awareness that (thank heavens) they'll always be different.
To interpret ''City of Women'' as antifeminist would be, I think, to underrate the complexity of the man whose vision this is. As in so many of his films, including the beautiful but dour ''Casanova,'' Mr. Fellini never for a minute forgets his own his guilts, his fears of impotence, even as he is allowing himself to enjoy the prospect of some new encounter that may lead him one step closer to the ideal woman, which, as he knows perfectly well, is a self-defeating concept.
Mr. Fellini obviously adores women as much as he adores making movies, especially movies that find substance in gaudy artifice, that have the shape of dreams, of images freely associated, occasionally of spectacle that is its own justification, as is a show you might have seen at the old Paris Lido.
Mr. Mastroianni has never been better than he is here as the nowwell-seasoned Fellini surrogate figure. It's a supremely accomplished performance, modest and grand, broadly comic at times, even touching in its details. One special highlight: Mr. Mastroianni's doing a brief, elegiacal, Fred Astaire turn to the music of ''Let's Face the Music and Dance.'' There is, though, no other single image in the film that equals the sight of Mr. Mastroianni's Snaporaz as he creeps under a bed, in pursuit of some new mystery, with a small hole in his left sock. It's at this moment that he finally surrenders his dignity. Forever.
There's also something extremely satisfying in the film's concluding sequence in which Snaporaz rides a roller-coaster-like chute down through his adult life into his childhood, the roller coaster's structure appearing to be an adaptation of the rocket launching pad that Guido, the blocked film director of ''8 1/2,'' never found use for.
Mr. Mastroianni's is the only principal role in the film, but there are fine contributions by a number of other people, including Anna Prucnal, a Delphine Seyrig look-alike, who plays Snaporaz's beautiful, neglected wife; Ettore Manni, who plays the exhausted Xavier, Bernice Stegers, as the woman on the train, and Donatella Damiani, a new Italian beauty, who turns up in a number of enigmatic roles.
Though ''City of Women'' is about a libertine, it's anything but licentious. Mr. Fellini's licentiousness suggests a profound longing for some kind of protective discipline, if not complete chastity. As such discipline would destroy Snaporaz, it would make impossible the conception and production of a film as wonderfully uninhibited as ''City of Women.''

directed by Federico Fellini;
screenplay by Mr. Fellini and Bernardino Zapponi;
screenplay collaboration by Brunello Rondi;
director of photography, Giuseppe Rotunno;
film editor, Ruggero Mastroianni;
music by Luis Bacalov;
Running time: 138 minutes.


Federico Fellini, (January 20, 1920 – October 31, 1993), was an Italian film director. He is considered to have been one of the most influential and widely revered film-makers of the 20th century.
Filmography as director
Luci del varietà (1950) (co-credited with Alberto Lattuada)
Lo sceicco bianco (1952)
I vitelloni (1953)
L'amore in città (1953)
La strada (1954) Oscar (best foreign language film)
Il bidone (1955)
Le notti di Cabiria (1957) Oscar (best foreign language film)
La dolce vita (1960) Oscar (best costumes)
Boccaccio '70 (1962)
8½ (1963) Oscar (best foreign language film and best costume design)
Giulietta degli spiriti (1965)
Histoires extraordinaires (1968)
Satyricon (1969)
I clowns (1970)
Roma (1972)
Amarcord (1973) Oscar (best foreign language film)
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976) Oscar (best costume design)
Prova d'orchestra (1978)
La città delle donne (1980)
E la nave va (1983)
Ginger and Fred (1986)
Intervista (1987)
La voce della luna (1990)

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